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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Chinese New Year Eve: The Feast

Chinese New Year roast suckling pig

If there are three particular idiosyncrasies about Asian palates it's our love of bones, skin and fat.

The roast suckling pig embodies all three in glorious gormandizing hedonistic glory.

Chinese New Year Eve feast

I had the good fortune to be invited to dine with Veruca Salt and her family on Chinese New Year's Eve, a night which traditionally involves a reunion dinner for celebratory feasting.

The Chinese New Year mandate for excessive eating provided the perfect excuse for Veruca to order a whole suckling pig.

And who was I to argue?

Veruca had been planning this feast for weeks. There was a tentative menu brainstormed over a month before, discussions, deliberations and days of dedicated research before preparations began in earnest.

The result? See for yourself:

Chinese New Year yee sang salad
Yee sang (raw fish) salad
This salad is traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve, or on the seventh day of the Chinese New Year. All guests toss the salad at the same time, using chopsticks to toss it higher and higher as they call out good luck wishes to bring prosperity.

Ours had salmon strips, pickled ginger, daikon, carrot, garlic chives and coriander (cilantro). We improvised a dressing of light soy, mirin, lime juice and honey.

Stuffed chicken wings and cha gio fried spring rolls
Canh ga don (stuffed chicken wings) and
cha gio (spring rolls made with banh trang rice paper)

The midwing is deboned and stuffed with a mixture of pork mince, carrot, vermicelli and mushroom. They are placed in a steamer to cook, and then deep-fried to a golden brown.

Cha gio (also known as nem ran in Vietnam's south) are made with banh trang rice paper; the semi-translucent sheets of starch give a chewy almost tacky texture when deep-fried.

Crispy skin chicken
Crispy skin chicken
A mammoth task involving marinating, simmering, drying, glazing, more drying and finally deep-frying.

Salmon sashimi
Sashimi salmon

Goi cuon Vietamese summer rolls with prawn
Goi cuon (summer rolls)

Steamed whole perch with ginger and shallots
Steamed whole perch with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and shallots
Whole fish is another must-have dish at Chinese New Year. Only half should be eaten and the remaining eaten the next day, as the word for fish sounds like surplus.

It's all about homophonic coincendences!

Chinese New Year roast suckling pig whole body
Whole roast suckling pig

But it's always the pig that gets the most attention.

With good reason...

Chinese New Year roast suckling pig pieces
Suckling pig

The crackling was lightly salted, crisp and yes, indeed, delicious. It was the only dish that was purchased, and although it wasn't quite as earth-shattering as some we've had, we forgave it on the grounds of Chinese New Year-driven customer chaos.

There was a gluttony of desserts: homemade pandan coconut jelly (by A), homemade mango pudding (Veruca again) and an entire crate filled with juicy sweet delicately perfumed longans.

Bliss.

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Chinese New Year Eve: the build-up

11 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (AugustusGloop) on 2/02/2006 11:47:00 pm


11 Comments:

  • At 2/03/2006 12:51 am, Blogger OsloFoodie said…

    Helen, my gosh, what can I say, what a feast! I think the yee looks like something that I try to do. Do you know whether the salmon for this dish is treated in any way?

     
  • At 2/03/2006 12:52 am, Blogger OsloFoodie said…

    Sorry I meant "yee sang" in my earlier comment. It's a bit hard to type and drool at the same time as you know.

     
  • At 2/03/2006 1:42 am, Blogger MM said…

    Oh what a feast! Yummers ... to everything except the whole suckling pig. I don't know what it is but I always have the heebies jeebies when I see one of those. I adore the rest of the menu though and am salivating just looking at the photos.

    Oslo, usually the raw fish in yee sang is not treated in any way as there is a vinaigrette that is tossed into it with the vegetables juliennes during the lo hei.

     
  • At 2/03/2006 5:53 am, Anonymous GastroChick said…

    wow, that looks like some feast!

     
  • At 2/03/2006 2:55 pm, Anonymous Mama BoK said…

    What a feast..!! yer so lucky..!!

     
  • At 2/04/2006 8:24 pm, Blogger fooDcrazEE said…

    what a feast! The YEE SANG is different from Malaysia though. Take a look at here for a post of Malaysian Yee Sang

     
  • At 2/05/2006 6:29 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Oslofoodie - lol. I commend your typing-whilst-drooling capabilities.

    We just used raw salmon. As far as I'm aware, this dish always uses raw fish.

    Hi MM - Whole dead animals are sometimes a little daunting, but I think that if you eat meat, you need to be able to look it in the eye.

    Besides, suckling pig is just so good!

    Hi gastrochick - It was!

    Hi Mama BoK - I know. I wish it could eat it all over again! =)

    Hi foodcrazee - Veruca actually created her own yee sang. Yours does look delicious though. I do love how they're always so colourful!

     
  • At 2/05/2006 9:11 pm, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    Happy New Year AG! Thank you for helping us celebrate such a joyous time of year.

    If only we had lit the fireworks to bring in the new year.

    Guess our bellies were too full.

     
  • At 2/05/2006 9:19 pm, Anonymous *Gi Gi* said…

    chuc mung nam moi, translation happy new year! All the best in the new year with your foodie adventures.... Man what can i say?? i put on 5kg just looking at all the amazing pics! i'm not a huge blog fan but you've impressed me!

     
  • At 2/06/2006 10:39 pm, Blogger Rachel said…

    Great photos and feast! What can I say? Living in Aus is great as you get to feast TWICE a year! Christmas and CNY :) it certainly is the best of both worlds.
    I have always known yu sang to be of S'porean or malaysian origin ... would you be of either?
    All the other dishes looked great! And theres still 6 more days of celebrating we can make use of !

     
  • At 2/07/2006 1:28 am, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Veruca Salt - Always happy to be of service. It was a brilliant CNYE. The tastiest yet! =)

    Hi GiGi - Aww thanks. Glad you like it.

    Hi Rachel - It was a feast indeed. Feasting is international. I like to take on board any and every food-related celebration I can! ps. I'm ABC.

     

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